Chapter 100 – Lutz’ Path

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“As you know, Lutz is a minor. If he wants to travel outside the city for work, he absolutely requires permission from his parents. Taking him without getting permission would be considered the same as kidnapping.”

Taking a deep sigh, Benno began explaining the situation. I am grateful for the extra information since the assignment list had simply stated Persuade Lutz’ parents to give permission for him to go on a trip.

“I already sent Mark but he was unable to get their permission. I don’t know if it is because merchants and craftsmen have different formalities, or if his father is simply stubborn. I’d like to hear what you think.”

“I’m not sure how much help I can be… You’re having trouble getting permission for Lutz to travel, right? This is a conversation for you, Lutz, and his parents. Even as his childhood friend, I’m still pretty much an outsider in this matter.”

Benno wants to take Lutz outside the city for work; Lutz needs to be able to travel; Lutz’ parents need to be convinced to permit it. These are the four people concerned. I feel like I shouldn’t meddle in their affairs.
When I say as much to Benno, he stares intensely at me and scratches his head roughly.

“That’s why I’m asking for your opinion, Maïne. I need as much information as possible. If Lutz knows you best, then you should know Lutz best, right?”

Benno wants to gather information before the discussion with Lutz’ parents so he can prepare for all eventualities in advance. With as much time as I spend with him, I very likely do know Lutz best, except in regards to his work.

“He needs to travel for work, so why would they refuse permission?”

“That’s what I want to know. According to Mark, Lutz’ father stubbornly disapproved. I got an idea of Lutz’ hectic family environment when I lent him the attic, but what exactly is his situation?

Now that he mentions it, we rarely speak of our home life with Benno.
Even to me Lutz doesn’t talk about his family much. Not since the atmosphere at his home deteriorated when he declared his intention to be a merchant apprentice. I believe that he is even less willing to talk to Benno and Mark since it would feel like he’s whining to his superiors.

“To begin with, Lutz’s family objected to him becoming a merchant apprentice.”

“What did you say? That means they didn’t just object to him becoming a peddler, but even to becoming a merchant in the city?”

I slowly nod to Benno as his eyes widen in surprise.

“Since his father works in construction and his older brothers are craftsmen apprentices in construction and woodworking, I heard they wanted Lutz to become a craftsman as well. They say that the steady work of a craftsman is better and more stable than that of a merchant with its intense ups and downs.”

“It’s not like being a craftsman is stable either, is it?”

Given that there are also workshops that go out of business, you can’t say that a craftsman’s job is definitely stable. But if they are skilled, they will be hired by workshops in the same trade as opposed to managing and being expected to shoulder the debts of a shop.

“I also happened to hear from Lutz that he was told that he definitely won’t be allowed to become a merchant.”

Even filtered through Lutz, there were many cruel remarks such as it’s an occupation where one has to be ruthless or that they don’t create anything and only take a cut from craftsmen. Their way of speaking makes me wonder just what kind of corrupt merchant scammed them.

“… Lutz did well to become a merchant in such circumstances, didn’t he?”

Lutz might be a bit different, if you consider that the children in this city become apprentices by joining their parent’s line of work through their familial connections. But, since he’s lively in his work, I believe that Lutz’s choice wasn’t wrong.

“Lutz intended to become a live-in apprentice if his parents were adamantly against it. Since Aunt Karla… Lutz’ mother only approved after seeing just how serious Lutz was, the family is tolerating it for now.“

“Live-in apprentice? He had problems with his family to the degree of considering something like that?”

Benno blinked. Eccentric children that choose the inferior circumstances of a live-in apprentice usually don’t exist. By considering becoming a live-in apprentice, it was as if they declared that they believe such an inferior position to be better than staying with their own family.

“I don’t know anything since Lutz hasn’t told me whether they currently have a good relationship or not. However, it bothers me that Lutz’ older brothers actually look down on him quite a bit because of this.”

“They look down on him?”

“In the eyes of his family, it might look as if Lutz is doing as he pleases while defying his father. They might only be opposing him as they can’t see Lutz’ hard work or his accomplishments because he’s not in the same industry. I have never talked with his brothers about Lutz, so I don’t know.”
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I’ve never properly discussed Lutz with his brothers, and I haven’t even spoken with Lutz’s father.
I know that the eldest son, Sascha, resembles him the most among Lutz’ siblings and that he has pride in his work as craftsman, but that’s all. I often see his mother chatting by the well, but I never saw his father much.

“… However, I think that Lutz will run away from home if he learns that his dream will be crushed due to opposition from his parents. After all Lutz is stubborn and won’t yield on something once he’s decided on it. But, becoming a live-in apprentice is the last resort, right? With the extra burden of domestic chores, living alone will be hard for Lutz, so no matter what he says, I believe that his family is something he should rely on.”

“That’s right.”

Saying that, Benno smiles bitterly, glancing up at the upper floor. It’s obvious that Benno, whose parents died early, holds family very dear when you see how he looks at Corinna. He holds such deep affection that he stayed single after losing his lover. I don’t believe for an instant that he wants to cause a rift in Lutz’ family.

“So there’s no other choice but to explain it to Lutz and have him endure until adulthood if you wish for this to end harmoniously? Since there won’t be any need for something like parental permission once he becomes an adult, the safest approach would be to choose to wait while avoiding a confrontation with his family, right?”

It would be different if he was barred from leaving the city for his entire life without his parent’s permission, but since he can achieve his dream once he becomes an adult, I think it would be best if he endured it for now. Short of Lutz declaring that he can’t stand his family any longer, there is no need to cause such a rift in his family.
Benno shakes his head and looks grim-faced at my suggestion to play it safe.

“By then it will be too late.”

“Too late for what?”

I wonder, is there anything so urgent? Once I tilt my head in confusion, Benno suddenly frowns and averts his eyes.

“These are my circumstances. … For now I won’t talk about it, okay?”

If those are circumstances related to his work, it’s not good for me to hear too much, as I am not a part of Gilberta Company. After I lightly passed it off with a “I see,” he groans out a “Yeah.”

“Let’s assume then that this matter would cause a rift between Lutz and his family, for argument’s sake. I believe that Lutz will choose living as merchant over his family, but Mister Benno, how far are you willing to go to support Lutz? Since you’re planning to take him outside the city, you definitely have expectations of him. However, to what extent are you going to support Lutz in his life, seeing as he’s only one of your apprentices?”

Benno doesn’t bear any responsibility towards Lutz, who has formed a Dalua Contract with him, in regards to his livelihood. If he does look after Lutz’ livelihood, it will also create dissent among the other Dalua.
If Benno has no interest in taking care of the practical side of life, Lutz will suffer even more if he becomes a live-in apprentice. It would be better to keep the status quo, than do that.
When I pin him with a stare that says that I won’t forgive him for playing with Lutz’ life, he raises his hands in surrender

“As for me… I’m considering adopting him.”

“Eeh!?”

I was taken aback by a reply beyond my expectations.
If Benno is going so far for Lutz, I won’t be worried even if Lutz runs away from home. Even if Lutz chooses to separate from his family and leave the city as a travelling merchant, there won’t be any problems that threaten his choice if he’s backed by Benno.

“I didn’t expect for you to go so far for him, Mister Benno. Isn’t the best course of action to explain the situation to Lutz and then talk to Lutz’ parents together with him?”

“Talk to Lutz, huh…?”

Benno exhales with a “hmm,” obviously hesitating.

“No matter what you do, I think Lutz’ will is important. After all, Lutz has always thought things over by himself so far.”

Adopting him means that Lutz will eventually inherit Benno’s store. Since he said that the Gilberta Company will be inherited by Corinna’s child, I think that Lutz will probably take over the businesses related to Maïne Workshop, such as the paper crafting and the italian restaurant. That’s likely the reason why Benno wants me to link up with Lutz at the time they create a new paper workshop.
Realizing that Lutz’ hard work up till now had been recognized by Benno, I am very happy as if I were the one being praised here.

“I suppose you are happy since Lutz will become my adopted child?”

“It’s not about him becoming your adopted child, I’m happy that Lutz’ efforts are valued highly.”

Benno laughs with a “pfft,” rings the bell and calls Mark. It looks like this is the end of the secret talk.

“What might be your order, master?”

“Call Lutz.”

“As you wish.”

Mark leaves the room at once with beautiful movements that look as if they are flowing and then returns with Lutz in tow. I guess Lutz has been carefully watching and imitating Mark. The similarity in their movements is amusing.

“Lutz.”

“Yes, master.”

“There’s something I’d like to discuss with your parents next time. Can you set up an appointment in the near future?”

Lutz blinks, obviously confused by Benno’s sudden question and slightly tilts his head in puzzlement.

“… With my parents? Okay, I understand.”

Benno nods slightly after receiving Lutz’ acknowledgement for the time being and states the day’s business details to Lutz. It is something along the lines of him having to go work at Maïne’s Workshop on the mass production of Tronbay paper after escorting me to the temple.

“Certainly. Let’s go Maïne.”

“Yeah. Then, Mister Benno, best regards.”

“Maïne, think about your other assignments as well.”

“Yeees…”

I head towards the temple together with Lutz. As just about everything seems to be looking up for Lutz, I end up humming spontaneously.

“You are in a good mood, aren’t you Maïne?”

“I am happy, after all.”

“Well, it’s great that you seem to be relatively lively after receiving master’s sermon.”

“Uh… don’t make me remember that.”

According to what Lutz had said along the way, it looks like he had been sent to Maïne’s Workshop by Benno to mass produce Tronbay paper while I was down with fever. It also seems like he went to the forest together with the orphans, mass produced black rind, picked up kalfe potatoes just like the two of us often did, and made buttered kalfe.

“It feels more like I’m the workshop head than you, doesn’t it Maïne?”

I shrug my shoulders a bit at Lutz’ comment. Apparently a blue-robed priestess mustn’t do any manual labour, so I’m not allowed to get involved. Given that everyone’s doing it joyfully, I want to mingle with them, but I have been banned from doing so.

“While I’m the workshop head as blue-robed priestess, it’s only a title for the sake of raising revenue. Do your best, since I pay you, the one who’s actually running it, a salary befitting a workshop head assistant.”

“Calling it workshop head assistant; that’s cool, but it’s basically just being your helper, right? I guess nothing’s changed even now.”

“It probably won’t change in the future either. After all, I will come up with new merchandise and you will sell it, Lutz.”

Even making Lutz produce paper and teaching the orphans at Maïne Workshop is likely a part of Benno’s training, and necessary for circulating paper made from plants.

“… Huh? There’s no one here?”

Although we entered the temple, none of my attendants can be seen at the gate. This is the first time since I came to the temple that no one has been waiting at the gate.

“I guess it’s because I told Fran that I didn’t know when we would arrive, as you were going to be scolded by master. I think it would be best to directly head to your room?”

“Yeah,” I say.

“I’m going to the workshop, okay? I will pick you up on my way home.”

I bid farewell to Lutz at the base of the stairs heading towards the hall of worship, climb the stairs and make my way to my own room after going around the orphanage.
The door, which has always been opened by my attendants, remains closed, so I’m slightly perplexed.
I wonder whether it’s fine for me to loudly open the door? Or is it better to knock lightly since it will be dangerous if someone’s in there? Or maybe it might be the best to call out to the inside and wait until it’s opened?
Even if I want to call my attendants, it’s not like I’m carrying a bell and they will scold me for being improper if I shout for them. Hmm, what would be the best option here? I tried to consider the proper, noble-like behaviour, but since it’s ridiculous for me to be this conflicted just to enter my own room, I decide to open the door after knocking lightly.
… There’s no one present who might get angry anyway. Let’s ask Fran about the correct manners later.
I knock and say “I’m coming in.” Turning the knob and opening the door, I see Fran descending the stairs at a quick pace while looking flustered.

“Good morning, Fran. I made you worry, didn’t I? My fever has come down, so I’m alright now.”

Fran throws a quick glance at the second floor with an extremely embarrassed expression and whispers,

“Sister Maïne, as a matter of fact…”

“What’s this about a lady walking by herself without taking any attendants along?”

“Eh!? Head Priest!?”

I never expected to see the Head Priest in my room! I stare blankly up at the Head Priest who is looking down on me from the second floor.

“Close your mouth. How indecent. … Apart from that, I don’t know about outside, but make sure to never do something so disgraceful such as walking inside the temple by yourself.”

Urged on by Fran, I head to the second floor and obediently listen to his tediously long scolding while sitting in front of the Head Priest and elegantly drinking tea.
According to the Head Priest, the correct way of opening a door, one befitting a noble, is to “Always give a previous announcement and have your attendants wait at the gate” or “Inform the gatekeeper of your arrival and wait for your attendants to arrive in the waiting room.”
… That’s a bit too fussy for me.
Don’t scold me so much just because I opened a single door. Seeing as he could go on indefinitely, I change the topic by asking about the Head Priest’s visit.

“Head Priest, I understand the way of opening a door.”

“It’s not about how to open a door! Just what did you hear!? I was talking about the way you should conduct yourself as lady…”

Oh my, looks like the scolding wasn’t about how to open a door.
Interrupting the Head Priest at a point before he can get fired up and restart the scolding, I ask him,

“Might I inquire as to the reason for your visit? For you to specially come visit my room, there must be quite a reason, right? Is it something urgent?”

Normally I would have already started on sorting documents a while ago. He mentioned that he has some leeway due to my help, but him allotting that extra time to scolding me will be unbearable.
Does the Head Priest recall the main issue at hand? He clears his throat lightly and looks at me.

“Did the fever go down completely?”

“Eh? Yes, I have completely recovered. I’m very sorry for having caused you worry.”

“That’s great.”
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While calling it great, the Head Priest reveals a smile that chills me to the bone. I straighten up my back in shock as he switched to the sermon mode of the secret room.

“I’m sure I told you to not cause an uproar. Didn’t I?”

“Eh? Huh?”

As I had just returned from days in bed with a fever, followed by an intense discussion with Benno, I stare blankly at the Head Priest for a moment before I realized what he was talking about.

“I checked the Orphanage grounds to see if everything had been properly cleaned up. I found much of the soil churned up and the paving stones in disarray.”

I had counted on the blue-robed priests avoiding the place, but it looks like the Head Priest made the effort to check it out himself. It seems that he’s neurotic and must check everything himself, despite being so busy.
He narrows his golden eyes and pins me to the chair with the intensity of his stare.

“Just how did you cause such a situation?”

“How, you ask… umm… as I told you before…”

I glance nervously towards Fran. I wonder just what Fran told him. I have no excuses that could keep me out of trouble.

“I asked Fran and some of the orphans, but they only said that you cut a tree that will become a raw material for paper, threw Tau fruit, and that you collapsed after being afflicted by fever, but…?”

“… we really haven’t done anything besides that.”

Jumping on the explanation he’s given, I nod quickly.
I guess they haven’t revealed that the Tau fruit absorbed my mana and that the cut tree is Tronbay? Not knowing how much information they passed on to the Head Priest, I hold my tongue so that I won’t say anything unnecessary. I will ask Fran later what kind of questioning he has gone through.

“The fact that everyone’s answers are similar probably means that it’s not wrong. But, can’t you tell me what kind of uproar you caused that managed to turn the paving stones upside down?”

Just as I put up my guard and brace myself for an interrogation, the Head Priest scowls at me and orders,

“Maïne, today you will stay in the reflection room for the whole day.”

“Eh?”

… Without any questioning? If it was Mister Benno, he would relentlessly interrogate me though?
I wonder whether it’s because he went to ask the orphans about the circumstances while I was staying in bed? The Head Priest imposed my punishment without asking anything further.

“Reflection room, is it?”

“Correct. You should properly contemplate your own deeds while offering prayers to the gods.”

“… Very well.”

In sharp contrast to me, who would rather stay silent and go to reflection room to avoid being questioned, Fran became ghastly pale the instant he heard about me going to the reflection room. Delia even shouted “Unbelievable!”

“I have never heard something like a blue-robed priestess apprentice being sent to the reflection room! That’s disgraceful!”

“Head Priest, please reconsider sending her to the reflection room!”

It looks like I will become the first blue-robed priestess apprentice in history to be sent to the reflection room.
To be honest, I would choose being confined in the reflection room over being repeatedly and persistently picked at about the day of the festival while being scolded by the Head Priest with such a frosty atmosphere.

“Both of you, it can’t be helped as I broke the promise I made with the Head Priest. It’s only natural for me to take responsibility. It’s fine as long as no blame reaches the orphanage’s children.”

All’s well as long as the orphans, who made a fuss together with me, don’t end up being punished alongside me. It would be pitiful if their precious, happy memories were painted over by the Head Priest’s sermon and the reflection room, especially considering they enjoyed it so much.

“Umm, Head Priest. Where can I find the reflection room and what will I be doing in there? Ah, no, don’t misunderstand. I know that I’m going to reflect on my actions. But, is there anything I have to accomplish during my reflection?”

Various things pop into my mind from the time when I was scolded in my time as Urano, such as cleaning as punishment, writing apology letters or sitting in seiza.

The Head Priest raises a brow and mutters “You… what are you saying?” It looks like I ended up asking something that’s common knowledge for those working at the temple.

“It’s obvious that you are going offering prayers to the gods, isn’t it?”

Eh? Is it a sentence of one day in the Gl○co pose?
As I’m not saying anything against that unexpected penalty, Gil comforted me by saying “Sister Maïne, since I’m used to it, I will go inside together with you.” Of course he wasn’t allowed to accompany me into the reflection room and it was decided that I will enter by myself.

“Make sure to properly contemplate in here.”

The Head Priest led me to the reflection room, which is really close to the hall of worship and urged me inside.
It appears to be a small room made out of white stone, just like the hall of worship, and there’s a small gap for ventilation high up on the wall. It’s a dormer window, so the small room is brighter than I expected.
This room, that uses white stone for the floor and all the surrounding walls as well, is cold despite it being summer. It looks like it would be terrible during winter, but it doesn’t seem to be such a harsh environment in summer.

“Sister Maïne, are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m doing fine.”

I couldn’t see the worried looks of Fran and Gil through the hastily closed wooden door.
Since there’s no one watching me, there’s no way that I will seriously offer my prayers. I sit down in a corner with a thump. It’s nice and cold, and has a very calming atmosphere.
I decide to take out the assignment list that I secretly put in the pocket of my skirt and ponder how to solve the problems.

“Yeah, won’t this be somehow possible, if he skillfully adopts a system of turning down first-time customers? What should I do about this one? It’s not a good time to shamelessly ask the Head Priest to Please invite me to dinner and lunch since I want to learn about a noble’s meals.”

I wonder whether I’m maybe still not up to my normal condition? I’m getting too sleepy. Since my stomach’s empty, I think that the time for lunch has passed. I fold the assignment list, put it into my pocket, and then lie down on the floor. In order to restore my stamina by having a little nap, I close my eyes and let myself doze.

“Maïne, you’re supposed to be reflecting, not taking a nap…!? Fran!”

“Whaa! Sister Maïne!?”

It seems that my body ended up growing cold while I was taking a nap on the chilly stone floor. When the Head Priest came back to let me out of the reflection room, my fever had come back at full strength and I was unable to move.
“To cause her fever to act up again the day she showed up at the temple after recovering, just how am I going to apologize to her mother?” I could hear Fran’s voice close to my ear. He was at his wits’ end.

“Didn’t she recover!?”

“With all due respect, Head Priest, you are taking Sister Maïne’s feebleness far too lightly. Didn’t I implore you to reconsider sending her to the reflection room?”

“So those were words considering her physical condition and not her honor…?”

He had ignored Fran’s warning, and it resulted in my having to stay in bed with a fever again, right after recovering. It seems the Head Priest, who had sent me to the reflection room, deeply regretted my fever as being his responsibility.

◆◇◆◇◆

On my third day stuck in bed, Tuuli rushes into my bedroom.

“It’s a disaster, Maïne! Ralph said that Lutz ran away from home and didn’t come back!”

“Eeh!?”

I reflexively try to get up, but instead collapse back into bed.

 

 


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